How To Know If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You (Or If You Need A Lawyer)


Ask yourself these questions.

Nobody plans to get divorced, and for most of us, navigating the complicated legal web that is the divorce process is overwhelming. That's why so many people choose mediation over hiring attorneys and heading to court. But mediation isn't for everyone. 

So, what is mediation, and how do you know if it's the best way to handle your divorce?

According to Kevin J. Chroman, a family and divorce lawyer who took some time out of his day to explain the situation to us in the latest YourTango Experts video, mediation is a process where a neutral profession—usually an attorney—helps you and your spouse navigate through your divorce proceedings without sending you through the difficulty of litigation.

What exactly can you hope to achieve by going through mediation instead of regular divorce proceedings? A mediator can help walk you and your spouse through splitting up your assets and debts, as well as determining situations involving custody of your children and any spousal support that will need to be addressed for the future.

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They will also help you have difficult or uncomfortable conversations and can act somewhat as a buffer if you and your spouse’s needs aren’t quite aligning.

Mediation can be a really great way to get through a divorce, and it doesn’t come with all of the issues that a divorce court case might have. So how can you tell if you and your spouse are a good candidate for mediation versus typical divorce?

One of the most important facets of determining whether your case is right for mediation comes down to a simple question:

How much trust do you have in your partner with respect to the assets and kids?

When you first begin divorce proceedings, you have to have an understanding of how well you trust your spouse when it comes to making decisions for your children’s well being. If you have a moderate to high level of trust in their ability to co-parent with you, says Chroman, then you are likely a good candidate for mediation.

If you know that your spouse wants what is best for your kids and can be trusted to make decisions with you, despite how difficult the divorce and its causes might be, then a mediator can certainly help both of you reach that common ground and make things easier.

However, if you have concerns about your spouse’s parenting ability or you don’t believe that they are competent enough to have the children’s best interests at heart, then you may want to look at filing divorce in the traditional sense.

And when it comes to money, again, trust is a major issue. If you suspect that they are above-board with their assets and finances and there aren’t any foreseeable issues with bank accounts or other monetary accounts, then again, mediation is a good path for you both to head down.

However, if you suspect that your partner may have accumulated debt that you don’t know about, or even hid cash or other funds away from you in personal accounts, then mediation may not be the best route for the two of you to go down.

If it comes to this situation, then, unfortunately, hiring a lawyer may be what’s best for the two of you, so that all of the aspects of the relationship get looked at and reviewed and the judges can make the best decision for everyone involved.

Having a competent lawyer on your side can help keep your divorce as simple and pain-free as possible.

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Kevin J. Chroman, Esq, is a family law attorney who practices in the greater Los Angeles area. If you have any questions regarding this or other legal questions, contact him at his website.